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Album Review

Ricardo Pinheiro: Caruma


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Ricardo Pinheiro: Caruma
Ricardo Pinheiro is a guitarist from Lisbon, Portugal who has made his mark on jazz in Europe and the U.S. His sensitive, imaginative, and intimate way of playing is evident on albums such as Pinheiro, Ineke. & Cavalli: Triplicity (Daybreak/Challenge, 2018) and Pinheiro/ Ineke/ Cavalli: Turn Out The Stars (Challenge, 2021) , the former being a musical re-interpretation of bebop standards and the latter a guitar rendition of the music of pianist Bill Evans. There is a certain boldness and experimental daring in the way Pinheiro works and plays, but he also has the discipline to adhere to the traditions and the highest standards of guitar playing and the jazz idiom.

In this album. Caruma, he has joined with vocalists Theo Bleckmann, a German singer transplanted to the U.S., and Mônica Salmaso, a Brazilian popular singer, to venture outside the AABA song form and swing rhythm that is familiar in "jazz" to a series of "tone poems," that is, music which mirrors or expresses things in real life. Debussy's "La Mer" is an example of a tone poem in which the music evokes the varied moods of the sea. In Caruma (pine needles), the music is evocative of sensations and moods experienced in a thickly forested region of Portugal called the Sintra Woods. As you listen, you can almost feel the pine needles under your toes or in your fingers, and you are drawn into this magical place as one is drawn into a dream.

The record is composed of Pinheiro's deep eight-string guitar musings together with the singing of Bleckmann and Salmaso alternating on each of four tracks. Pinheiro's use of the eight-string guitar creates a feeling of reverie, and draws you into places you probably have never been but where you will feel very much at home, It is a sequestered world where you are free to dream your dreams. Singers Bleckmann and Salmaso easily glide their voices, free of vibrato, over the musical woodlands. Keats wrote, "Beauty is truth; truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know." This music brings the listener in contact with an inner peace that affirms Keats' words.

The Portuguese lyrics of the songs are about the comfort and mystery of the woods, loss and grief (in jazz known as "the blues") and the symbolism of the pine needles. Here is Pineiro's translation of one of the songs:

Caruma (Pine Needles):
Who are you?
Does someone else see you
like me, without peace?

Pine needles fall on the sand, it is ephemeral
time doesn't come back
Caruma is what time brings

Who are you crying?
Who hurt you?
Who do you smile for?
What is real?

Walking on the pine needles does not
turn back time, never
Caruma is what time brings

Is this album "jazz"? Probably we should stop asking that question because jazz musicians now include so many different musical genres in their work. But if you're wondering about it, it is jazz in that the harmonies reflect the influence of musical impressionism to be found in many of the jazz standards as well as folk influences from Portugal and Brazil that we know from Antonio Carlos Jobim and others. The David Raskin song "Laura" from the film by the same name, evokes a similar dreamlike feeling. The line between composing and improvising vanishes in music such as this. And the line between jazz and classical music virtually disappears.

Track Listing

Gratitude; Cancao de Embalar A Isabel; Mar Picado; Quando Nao Estiveres Aqui; Ausencia; Caruma; Sesta; Resina.


Ricardo Pinheiro: guitar, electric; Theo Bleckmann: voice / vocals; Monica Salmaso: voice / vocals.

Additional Instrumentation

Ricardo Pinheiro: effects, loops; Theo Bleckmann: effects, loops; Mônica Salmaso: effects.

Album information

Title: Caruma | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Inner Circle Music

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